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SBD Global/June 3, 2014/Facilities

Rugby League's State Of Origin To Return To Melbourne Cricket Ground In 2015

Rugby League's State of Origin series will return to the Melbourne Cricket Ground next year for the first time since '97, according to Nick Smart of the HERALD SUN. The Victorian Government has announced that it has "secured the second match in next year's series to be played at Melbourne's biggest stadium." It will be the fourth time Origin has been played at the MCG. National Rugby League CEO David Smith said that the game was "making a welcome return to the MCG." Smith: "There is nothing which can match the passion, desperation, skill and excitement of Origin at its best" (HERALD SUN, 6/2). Smith said that the NRL's partnership with the Victorian Government would provide a boost for Rugby League in Melbourne. Smith: "I think anyone who saw last week's Origin game in Brisbane will realize that Melbourne has secured the best sporting event in Australia." Smith said that last week's Origin match attracted an estimated television audience of more than 4 million viewers around Australia. It also drew more than half a million viewers in Victoria, including 118,000 fans in regional Victoria (NRL). In Sydney, Brad Walter reported NRL officials plan to use State of Origin to "grow the game in new markets around Australia and overseas, with Perth and even London possible venues" after the new deal to play matches at the MCG in '15 and '18 expires. NRL Commercial & Marketing Dir Paul Kind said that he was "confident of attracting crowds of more than 70,000 at the MCG and believed the game was now as strong as it had been when a crowd of 87,161 set what is still the State of Origin attendance record" at the venue in '94. Given the NRL rejected a A$12M offer from the Victorian government for six Origins in '12, it "is believed the new deal is worth more than" A$2M ($1.9M) per match. However, money is not the "only incentive and Kind said the NRL would consider taking Origin anywhere it believed would help grow the game, with Perth a strong possibility" in '21 if the city gets its own team before then (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6/2).
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